We know very well that the sun is a friend that lights our way, but at the same time, it may turn into an enemy that we must beware of. If you think that the sun is just a source of warmth and light, it is time to change this belief. We will talk about a vital topic related to your health, which is sunstroke.
In this article, which we hope will be your faithful companion on hot summer days, we will shed light on the symptoms, causes, prevention, and treatment, to help you overcome this summer health risk. So, follow with us.
In this Article
What is Sunstroke
Also called heatstroke, it occurs when the body temperature rises to a high level (usually 40 degrees Celsius or more), and the body is unable to regulate the temperature and cool itself effectively.
It is a medical emergency that may be dangerous, as it can lead to death in severe cases or cause damage to the brain and other vital organs. Although it is known to mainly affect the elderly, it may occur in healthy young people as well, including athletes.
There are two types of sunstroke:
This type usually occurs as a result of excessive physical stress in hot and humid conditions.
It can develop within a few hours, and results from strenuous physical activity or intense sports in high-temperature conditions, leading to dangerously high body temperature.
Also called classic heatstroke, it can occur as a result of age or underlying health conditions.
This type tends to develop over several days, and it usually occurs in people who are older or have health problems such as heart disease or diabetes.
When a person is exposed to high heat and loses a large amount of water and salts from his body, the symptoms of heatstroke appear and develop quickly, and these symptoms include the following:
- Dry skin and lack of sweating (most common in the mild type).
- Movement and coordination problems.
- Delirium or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there).
- Excessive sweating that continues after stopping physical activity (most common in the severe type).
- Hot, red, or very pale skin.
- Low or high blood pressure.
- A gurgling sound in the lungs.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Decreased urine excretion.
- Rapid breathing or increased heart rate.
- Epileptic seizures.
- Sudden consciousness losing.
Heatstroke occurs when your body cannot properly regulate its temperature and cool itself. Factors that contribute to it occur include:
- Exposure to sunlight for long periods.
- Wearing excess clothing prevents sweat from evaporating easily and cooling your body.
- Drinking alcohol affects the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.
- Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough water to restore fluids you lose through sweating.
Sunstroke Risk Factors
Anyone can get heatstroke, but infants, the elderly, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable; Because their bodies are not able to cool down as quickly as healthy adults who do not suffer from health problems.
Athletes, soldiers, and those who work in hot environments are also at risk. Other factors that increase your risk include:
- Medications that affect your body’s ability to regulate temperature, such as diuretics, tranquilizers, anti-anxiety medications, or heart and blood pressure medications.
- Having diseases that affect your body’s ability to sweat, such as cystic fibrosis.
- Wear heavy or tight clothing such as protective clothing.
- Having a high fever.
- Stay inside closed cars in hot weather conditions for a period.
- Having a history of sunstroke.
- Weak physical fitness or not being used to hot climates.
- Sleep disorders.
People with certain chronic diseases such as:
- Heart diseases such as atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure.
- Kidney disease.
- Obesity or thinness.
- Certain skin disorders may prevent the body from losing heat properly, such as skin dysplasia, absence of normal sweat glands, and severe scleroderma.
A doctor can usually diagnose heatstroke from a person’s appearance and history, and may sometimes order medical tests to rule out other possible causes.
These tests may include:
- Blood test: Measures levels of gases as well as potassium and sodium in the blood to check for any damage to the central nervous system (CNS).
- Urine test: Checks kidney function. If the urine is dark in color, this indicates a heat-related condition such as dehydration.
- Muscle test: Confirms whether there is any damage to muscle tissue.
- X-ray: It can reveal any damage to internal organs.
Sunstroke First Aid
Treatment requires immediate medical care, as it is considered a medical emergency that requires urgent medical intervention, and it is recommended to implement first aid; To lower the patient’s temperature until he is transported to the hospital.
- The patient should be moved away from sunlight to a cool, shaded, and well-ventilated place, preferably in an air-conditioned place.
- Place ice bags on the neck, thighs, and armpits.
- Encourage him to drink fluids that are slightly salty, such as sports drinks or salted water.
- Immerse him in cold water if possible.
- Spray him with water and direct air over his body for evaporative cooling.
- Carefully monitor his breathing and remove any airway obstructions.
- Do not give any medications, including aspirin and paracetamol.
- Remove any tight or heavy clothing; To help air reach it.
- It is important to avoid drinking sugary, alcoholic or caffeinated drinks to rehydrate, as these drinks may affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature, and very cold drinks can cause stomach cramps.
Sunstroke Treatment in Hospital
- Cooling the patient’s body in various ways: such as immersion in cold water, placing ice compresses on the body, using a cooling blanket, or blowing air on the body using a fan.
Sometimes, washing with cold water is necessary, and the doctor uses thin, flexible tubes called catheters to fill body cavities with cold water; This helps lower the overall body temperature, and the catheter can be inserted into the rectum or through the esophagus.
Health care providers stop cooling procedures when the body reaches about 102°F (38.9°C)
- Intravenous fluids: The patient is given fluids intravenously to prevent dehydration.
- Medications: Patients may be given medications to control seizures, prevent blood clots, and reduce inflammation. Doctors can prescribe muscle relaxants such as benzodiazepines for patients with agitation and shivering, with the aim of reducing further heat production.
- Monitoring: The patient’s condition is closely monitored in the hospital to ensure that the treatment is effective and that there are no complications.
The length of time a person stays in the hospital for treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, people may be able to go home after a few hours of treatment. However, some may need to stay in the hospital for several days or even weeks.
People with heat stroke usually have a good prognosis if they receive prompt treatment.
Herbal Sunstroke Treatment
The use of herbal remedies to treat heat stroke has been part of traditional medicine practices. Although it is important to note that herbal remedies should not replace medical intervention in severe cases, some herbs may provide supportive benefits.
Here are some herbs commonly used in treatment:
- Peppermint: It is a refreshing herb that can help improve blood circulation. You can drink peppermint tea or apply it topically in the form of oil. It has cooling properties and may help relieve symptoms.
- Lemon juice: Lemon juice sweetened with honey can also help lower body temperature.
- Basil and fennel seeds: Some people may believe that they contribute to cooling the body. It is suggested to soak a handful of basil and fennel seeds in water overnight, then filter them in the morning and drink the water.
- Green Mango Juice: A refreshing and soothing juice that provides instant energy to your body. Made from unripe mango and spices like black pepper and black salt, it is known for its ability to balance electrolyte levels in the body.
Make sure to drink green mango juice at least twice a day to get the best results.
- Aloe vera: It is considered one of the most effective herbs in treatment, as it works to cool and moisturize the skin; because it contains water and many other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, it helps reduce inflammation and sunburn, including redness and swelling.
- Green tea: It is considered one of the best herbs for treating sunstroke, as it contains antioxidants that help get rid of harmful free radicals that cause damage to skin cells.
- Thyme: It is rich in flavonoids and terpenes, as they are plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, These properties help relieve symptoms of sun exposure, such as pain and redness, and it is important if you have an allergy to thyme that it is better to avoid using or eating it.
- Chamomile: A calming herb that can help reduce anxiety and stress. This can be beneficial for people suffering from heatstroke in the summer, as it can help them feel relaxed and cool.
- Coconut water: It is a natural and nutritious drink that can help in treatment, as it contains a high percentage of water, potassium, and sodium, which are important electrolytes for maintaining fluid balance in the body.
It helps rehydrate the body and lower its temperature, and it also provides the body with essential minerals that it lost due to excessive sweating.
Eating it with yogurt can help increase the effectiveness of the treatment, as yogurt is a good source of probiotics that help improve digestive health.
It is important to consult a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication.
The complications of heatstroke vary based on its severity, and if rapid intervention is not taken to control it, damage to the body’s organs can occur, and this damage may be permanent. Unfortunately, some cases can lead to the death of the infected person.
Possible complications include:
- High body temperature can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
- Brain swelling.
- Kidney failure.
- Metabolic disorders.
- Nerve damage.
- Reduced blood flow to the heart and other circulation problems.
- Liver damage.
When to Contact the Doctor?
If you have suffered a sunstroke and are recovering, you must contact the doctor immediately in the event of any abnormal symptoms such as:
- Disturbances of mental functions (problems with thinking or memory).
- Difficulty breathing.
- Liver or kidney problems.
- Decreased urine excretion.
Questions to Ask the Doctor
These questions will help you understand how to deal with heat and prevent heat exhaustion and other heat-related health problems, including:
- What are the warning signs of heat exhaustion and how can I prevent it from getting worse?
- What is heat pain and who can suffer from it?
- What is heat rash and is it dangerous?
- What should I do if I am taking a medication that increases my sensitivity to heat?
- How much water should I drink when it’s hot?
- What should I do if I work in a hot environment?
Make sure to clarify all your questions to get accurate and helpful guidance from your doctor.
The Long-term Effect of Sunstroke
In the past, it was believed that heatstroke was an easily treatable disease, without leaving any long-term effects. However, a study conducted in Chicago in 1995 showed that this is not always the case.
Researchers found that nearly half of people who had heatstroke died within one year, and a third of survivors developed moderate to severe functional disability that had not improved after 12 months.
These results indicate that this condition can be a very serious illness, and even if treated successfully, it is important to be aware of its symptoms and seek medical help immediately if you think you have it.
There are many actions that can be taken to avoid heat-related illnesses, and here are some tips to prevent heat stress:
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight during peak hours (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
- Wear loose clothing made of lightweight fabrics, as these allow the body to cool properly.
- Use sunscreen and apply it regularly. Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Maintain fluid intake; To replace fluids lost due to sweating.
- Avoid strenuous physical exertion and intense sports activities in hot weather.
- Maintain good ventilation in the home, and use a fan or air conditioning if possible.
- Make sure to provide comfort and cooling for people who are most susceptible to heat, such as children and the elderly.
- Never leave anyone in the car, as this is a common cause of heatstroke in children. In a closed car, the temperature can rise about 7°C in 10 minutes.
Heatstroke can be avoided quite easily if you follow simple recommendations. So in short, on days of extreme heat, it is recommended to wear loose and light clothing, drink cool drinks, and sit quietly in the shade. By following these guidelines, you can reduce your chance of heatstroke and enjoy peace of mind in hot climates.
In conclusion, dear, we hope that we have come up with the information and advice you need to protect yourself and your loved ones from heatstroke.
Always remember that prevention is better than cure and that knowing the symptoms and taking quick action when needed can protect your life. Do not hesitate to share this valuable information with others, as we are all responsible for each other’s health. We wish you a safe and enjoyable summer.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sunstroke
Does vinegar treat sunstroke?
There is no scientific evidence to support the use of vinegar to treat sunstroke. There are some reports that vinegar may help relieve symptoms of heatstroke, such as headaches and nausea. You can add apple cider vinegar to your fresh juice or mix it with water and honey; To help replace the loss of electrolytes and minerals
When is the sun dangerous?
The sun’s rays are most intense during the hours when the sun is at its highest, which means that it is most harmful between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so it is important to take the necessary precautions.
Does sunstroke affect the eye?
Yes. Sunstroke can affect the eye and cause health problems when exposed to ultraviolet rays, as it can cause damage to the cornea. This leads to pain and burning in the eyes, and it can also cause opacity of the lens of the eye, which is a transparent cover located behind the cornea.
Is diarrhea a symptom of heatstroke?
Yes. Heatstroke can cause diarrhea due to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. If you suffer from heatstroke with diarrhea, it is important to seek medical help immediately.